The Short Story

short story

I had to write short stories at school and University. Whenever I’ve got a little stuck with a novel I’ve begrudgingly written a short story in-between to fill the gap and keep my hand in, or specifically to enter a competition. But more recently I’ve been writing them because I actually want to, because I finally understand the value they have on their own.  I think it’s because I discovered a theme – to write scenes depicting old ways of life, women and men living close to the land, connected to spirit and mystery. I’ve discovered a new joy for writing that leaves behind the complexity of a novel and focuses purely on imagery. This has got me wondering if maybe the by-passing of short stories meant I didn’t build my longevity muscles. I didn’t use the required building blocks to get to the stage of novel writing. I thought short stories weren’t worthy. It has to be said here that my reticence is in part due to it being incredibly difficult as an unknown writer to have a book of short stories published.

It also takes an initial effort to get into a book, but once you know the characters and you understand the basics of the ride you’re about to take, then off you go. But with a short story there’s a feeling that you do the work of getting into it, then it stops…

And that’s where imagery comes in, to create a vibrant scene or character so quickly that the reader is instantly transported and need not work at all (not that I’m suggesting it isn’t possible to get straight into a novel, but it isn’t often the case).

I only have one book of short stories on my shelves – Close Range by the great Annie Proulx. The only reason for this was I wanted to understand how director Ang Lee managed to get Brokeback Mountain,  a 134 minute film out of 35 pages. It’s all about Proulx’s descriptive imagery and her ability to describe the basic requirements of plot with dexterous brevity.

“Proulx considers her short stories to be a greater accomplishment than her novels, particularly her three volumes of Wyoming stories—Close Range (1999), Bad Dirt (2004), and Fine Just the Way It Is (2008)—which cover broad swaths of Wyoming history, from the earliest trappers and settlers to the ranchers and game wardens and oil men who populate the state today.” (

On that note, better get writing…



About josieblueowl

I live a life as healthy and well balanced as I can. I believe that is the best way to support my creativity, I'm definitely not a person who thinks you should suffer to produce good work. I walk, meditate, read, garden, cook and try to write with honesty, and to the best of my ability.
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